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Monday, February 1, 2016

Warning: This is Not a Recipe!

If someone, your teacher maybe, ever asks what “irony” or “being ironic” means, you can say it’s when a squirrel says, “our friend, the hawk,” and you will be right. - Lynn Rae Perkins, Nuts to You
How often does the cook in the tiny Paris kitchen have a full-blown dinner plan? In my kitchen, where I’m the cook, rarely, but I usually have some kind of rough starting place, and last Saturday evening the basic ingredient was ground sweet Italian sausage. Earlier I’d had other ideas, plus salad and side dish possibilities, but then left Northport and hurried home without a trip to the grocery store.

I decided on meatballs and began by cubing up three slices of homemade potato bread. Chopped onion, a couple of eggs, handful of rolled oats, bread cubes, Italian seasoning herbs from a bottle (where did that come from?) and freshly ground pepper went into the bowl with the sausage. To firm the mixture up a bit more, I sprinkled in brown rice flour ... mixed ... added a little more flour, then formed the mixture into balls and rolled them gently in rice flour to coat them lightly. Nothing was measured first, and I hadn’t even pulled a cookbook off the shelf.

Into the fridge. Time for a break.

Now here is the irony promised by my opening quotation: While I was making up this dinner main dish as I went along, looking to see what I had on hand and snapping a shot now and then with my camera, a food show on NPR, almost at my left elbow (space being limited), was featuring a guest talking about food blogs and how recipes are absolutely critical and how the only someone who repeatedly tests a recipe can be trusted! Forget the visuals, said the guest, it’s the testing that counts. She gave that advice after noting that many people seem to get discouraged – actually suffer physical anxiety – from seeing too much perfection online.

Well, then, I’m just going to go right on posting a few pictures from time to time, because no one need fear perfection in or from my little kitchen! In fact, I want to say, clearly and emphatically, this is not a “food blog.”

I don’t put myself forward as a chef or wannabe cookbook author. I’m only a small-time bookseller, living out in the country, working out of a tiny kitchen, and trying to keep myself entertained and at the same time keep myself and my husband in good enough spirits to get through another northern winter. Don’t, for heaven’s sake, look to me for recipes! Make things up yourself, if you’re adventurous, and if you’re not, use a cookbook or other recipe source you trust.

Pressure? Stress? Sometimes things work out great, other times a little less than great. Big deal, that’s life. But hardly a matter of life and death.

Thus summarily dismissing blogging concerns, my next question concerned mushrooms: should they be combined with good garlicky chicken broth from last night’s dinner for soup or added to the meatballs? -- After browning the meatballs, that is, and putting them in the oven to take care of themselves while I steal some more reading time.

Decision: meatballs in greased pan, sauteed mushrooms strewn casually on top, broth over all, and into the oven with the entire dish. So many weighty executive decisions before darkness falls on another winter day! 

Reward: another welcome break, off in a larger room.

“Did you take a picture of that?” David asks frequently when I bring plates to the table. I tell him I don’t photograph everything we eat. “Why not?” he asks, when the plates look particularly colorful and appetizing.  Because this isn’t a job. (It doesn’t pay a cent.) It isn’t even a hobby. It’s just life chez nous, and sometimes I feel like sharing it, and other times I’m not in the mood.

So when I do share, like today, pretend you’re joining us for dinner, why don’t you? Or leave a comment to tell me what you made in your own kitchen, large or small, on the last Saturday night in January.

A little contact across the miles helps a lot at this time of year.


  1. Mother told me she was going to experiment with her potato soup by putting in cauliflower. I reminded her that Grandma Pringle told me she cooked "by guess and by gosh" and Mothe said that when she married she moved into cooking using recipes with specific ingredients/amounts. She said it was by listening to us now that she has decided to do some experimentation again. I have to ask how her soup came out!

  2. Looks yummy. Bruce always sighs when I photograph our food. But I like to do that when it's pretty, or especially tasty. Hardly every photograph the epic fails.